“Minnesota men” go to trial (9)

A minor witness testifying briefly yesterday made for a highly symbolic moment during the trial of the “Minnesota men” charged with conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. In mid-afternoon The prosecution called Bashi Ibrahim to the stand. Ibrhaim required a Somali translator for his testimony. Though he arrived in Minnesota with the first wave of Somali immigrants almost 25 years ago, in 1992, he was unable to understand the questions, or give his answers, in English.

Through the translator, Ibrahim testified that Yusuf Jama was one of his sons. Jama graduated from Minneapolis Public Schools in August 2012. After high school Jama worked as a teacher at an Islamic school.

Jama was determined to join the jihad with ISIS in Syria. He tried unsuccessfully to leave in May 2014 along with defendant Guled Omar and a friend who later turned and became a confidential source for the government. (The confidential source has now been identified as Abdhirahman Bashiir; Bashir took the stand at the end of the afternoon.)

In early June 2014, Jama made it to the Middle East. He left by Greyhound bus from Minneapolis to New York City. In New York he caught a flight from JFK Airport to Turkey.

Ibrahim last spoke to Jama during a phone call from him in June 25, 2014. The caller id. indicated the call was from Turkey. Jama wouldn’t tell him specifically where he was outside the United States, though he reassured him that he had a place to stay and money to buy food.

Ibrahim hasn’t seen Jama since he left the Twin Cities. Word has it that Jama died in battle in Syria fighting with ISIS at Kobane in December 2014.

But that’s not all! Ibrahim is also the father of Mohamed Osman. Osman also left the Twin Cities after graduating from one of Minneapolis’s better public high schools. Osman left to fight the jihad waged in Somalia by al-Shabab. Bashir testified that Osman died in Somalia in 2012.

Ibrahim identified Jama from a photo chart prepared by the government for the use of witnesses at trial. Before he left the stand, Ibrahim asked if he could take the chart with the photo of his son with him. “Can I take this?” he asked. Judge Davis told Ibrahim the government will make a copy for him.

Ibrahim must be the first to have contributed two “Minnesota men” to fight jihad and die as Islamic “martyrs.” Down two sons, he now has five sons at home. Surely those who celebrate diversity and urge us to “Coexist” owe Ibrahim some kind of recognition.

Abdhirahman Bashiir is the prosecution witness who turned from his friends and went to the FBI as an informant in the case. His highly anticipated appearance as a witness filled the trial and overflow courtrooms yesterday afternoon. Bashir took the stand just after 4:00 p.m. He testified for a little over an hour before Judge Davis adjourned for the day. I’ll pick up his testimony in this series tomorrow. In the meantime, the Star Tribune’s Stephen Montemayor has a good summary here and MPR’s Mukhtar Ibrahim/Laura Yuen have a good one in their running trial summary under Day 8 here.